on May 5, 2000
Carruthers's *Book of Memory* deals with the ways reading, composition, and memory interacted in the Middle Ages. She explores the way texts were used as memory tools or mnemonic devices by medieval readers. Texts, she argues, were not meant to be simply informational. Instead, readers and listeners used mnemonic skills to store the information gleaned from texts in their minds and use that information as the matter for future composition or meditation. Carruthers's writing is clear and informative. This text is comprehensive, often fascinating, and displays the author's vast knowledge of her subject matter. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in expanding his or her understanding of memory and composition in the Middle Ages. However, this book is not for everyone. It is very dense and goes into great technical detail about its subject matter. Students of medieval language and history will find it most useful.
on January 23, 2001
This extraordinary book and its companion volume, "The Craft of Thought," represent the most thorough, complete and accurate treatment of the arts of memory available in English. If you have a good academic vocabulary and a latin dictionary handy, this is quite a page turner. It gives you a look inside the heads of ancient and medieval scholars, whose imaginary "memory machines" are conceptual forerunners to the random-access memory in modern computers. Its themes are also a revelation to anyone interested in medieval art history. For example, after reading this, one realizes that medieval manuscripts were colorfully illuminated for the purposes of recollection, not just to make pretty pictures in the margins. This work expands and corrects some of the conclusions of Frances Yates in her pioneering work, "The Art of Memory." This is an intellectual thrill ride!
on October 17, 2000
I agree with the reader from New York who praises the scholarship on display here from Prof. Carruthers. Memory, so long a darling subject among intellectual elites, has fallen out of favor among modern intellectuals. Carruthers does an admirable job of re-locating it on our cultural maps.
_The Book of Memory_ suffers, however, in comparison with Frances Yates' classic text, _The Art of Memory_, which manages to be sweepingly ambitious, rigorous, and engaging. Carruthers is more academic. Yates' book is a masterpiece, whereas this one is merely superb.
on April 23, 2014
A dense read, but a good one. Carruthers helps us understand how seemingly mechanical mnemotechnics were really the cornerstone of a whole way of approaching thought, imagination, and creativity. If the past is a foreign country, then this book is a guided tour through an exotic landscape.